Hospital decision is a 'victory for common sense'
PUBLISHED: 07:35 17 June 2014
COMMON sense has prevailed, according to delighted campaigners who begged Weston General Hospital to remain fully within the NHS.
Nick Wood, chief executive of Weston Area Health NHS Trust, told staff this month that he would only be looking for another health trust to help run it in the future, after years of uncertainty as to whether a private partner would be welcomed.
Helen Thornton, spokesman for public service union, Unison, said she was ‘over the moon’ by the news.
She added: “This is a triumph for common sense, as well as the huge opposition locally to a private company running our local hospital.
“Since the procurement process started more than a year and a half ago, members of North Somerset Unison, along with members of the local campaign group Protect Our NHS, have campaigned against Weston Hospital being run by a private company. We believe NHS services should be run by the NHS and not by private companies who put profit before people.
“Local opposition to the privatisation of Weston Hospital has been huge and the response was an overwhelming ‘no’.
“We have always believed that if local people come together to protest against something that they believe is wrong, they can have an impact – this announcement proves us right.
“Those that say people don’t care who NHS services are run by as long as they are free, are wrong – people want their NHS services to be provided by the NHS.”
Steve Timmins, who is part of the Protect Out NHS campaign, is pleased by WAHT’s decision, but vowed to continue to fight for the very best NHS services.
He said: “We will continue to monitor the situation as there are still some concerns over the debt and how that will be structured, plus keeping an A&E 24/7.
“But overall we are delighted. In terms of partnering trusts, the nearer the better. Research shows in a life-threatening situation, every 30km you travel reduces your survival chances by one per cent.”
Meanwhile council leader Nigel Ashton and Labour councillor Catherine Gibbons also praised WAHT for its clinical improvements and decision to team up with another NHS trust.
Cllr Gibbons said: “The progress the hospital has made over these past months shows that it is a great public institution which, given the support for its staff, and the investment it deserves, can move forward.
“The people of Weston and the surrounding area can look forward to continuing to receive high quality NHS care, benefiting only people not private companies.”
Cllr Ashton added: “We are supportive of this move if it helps to secure the long-term resilience of health services provided at the hospital.”